Evanston Missionary Union

Activities

The Evanston Missionary Union sponsored scholarships for Christian foreign students undertaking religious study (starting 1922), and met for World Day of Prayer, starting in 1887. Further, delegates from each church reported their missionary work.

History

Formed as a prayer group for Evanston women (specifically mothers) in 1870, it was an interdenominational group that expanded from four churches to as many as twenty-eight. It began as the Maternal Association of Evanston and later changed its name to the Evanston Missionary Union in 1915. The Union showed a particular concern for bringing Christianity to girls in countries like China and India, and was concerned about the limited educational and religious opportunities for women (1879). In an 1882 address, presiding officer Mrs. Hitt noted, “One of the most attractive features of our village is the unity of spirit existing among the various denominations of Christ’s church. This oneness originated, and was cherished in the beginning, when we all worshipped together in the little frame meeting-house on Church Street.” They began sponsoring religious study for foreign students at Evanston-area colleges and schools, including Northwestern University, Wheaton College, and Garrett Theological Seminary, and continued until it merged with the United Church Women of Evanston in 1960.

Importance

The Union was the first interdenominational organization in Evanston, bringing together members from several Protestant Churches. Frances Willard spoke at their annual missionary meeting in 1884. In 1891, they confronted directors of the World Columbian Exposition about closing on the Sabbath. They first sponsored a scholarship for a Greek refugee from Smyrna in 1922. As of 1939, delegations included members from both white and African American churches. It is also quite significantly Evanston’s oldest women’s group

Founded: 1870

Founders: Mrs. D.F. Kidder, Mrs. Hamline (wife of Methodist bishop). Mrs. G.C. Noyes, Mrs. Bradley, Mrs. Clark (then editor of Mothers' Journal)